Food in Outer Space

In 1962, what was the first food eaten in outer space by an American astronaut?

And the answer is: applesauce.

Photo credit: NASA. 

On board the Friendship 7 spacecraft, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to eat in space. At that time, it wasn't yet known if ingestion was possible in a state of zero gravity. Glenn's consumption of applesauce showed that people could eat, swallow, and digest food in a weightless environment.    

In a manner not unlike that of a camping trip, astronauts have food specially packaged and prepared for orbital consumption. Many things can be consumed as normal, such as fruit and brownies, yet other things such as salt and pepper must be prepared in liquid forms. Some meals require the addition of water to their mix, and others must be slightly altered due to the lack of refrigeration. As astronauts spend more and more time above Earth, new ways to eat (and things to eat) are continually uncovered.

Space food has come a long way since John Glenn’s applesauce. In the beginning, astronauts used straws to suck dehydrated, paste-like food out of tubes. As technology improved, however, the menu for space consumption has steadily expanded. Now, while many foods (and most liquids) are dehydrated into a more pliable form before flight, astronauts' options are increasingly diverse, from spaghetti to cheese to Kung Pao Chicken.

Did you know?

The first batch of space cookies was baked in December 2019 aboard the International Space Station. Taking about two hours to bake, the cookies were the first ever inter-planetary desserts to be made.

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